School board approves Virtual Learning Opportunity

Whenever school is canceled due to inclement weather, students enjoy being able to sleep in or go sledding with friends. But it is time lost that could have been spent learning new material and reinforcing grade-level skills.

To help combat the loss of instructional time due to inclement weather, Stanly County Schools has created a Virtual Learning Opportunity, where students can complete a series of hands-on activities each day when school is canceled. In anticipation of bad weather, students would receive pre-made packets (complete with scissors and glue stick) with math and reading/literacy activities students can complete.

Elementary school students would work on a virtual learning board, which is a grid of nine squares (similar to a tic tac toe board), each containing different activities for students to complete. Each day school is canceled, students should complete three activities on the learning board — one for math, one for literacy and one for reading comprehension. The students would have the latitude to choose whichever activities most interest them.

The activities would not require access to a computer or the internet and would be relevant to what the students in each grade level are studying as opposed to simply being busy work. There will be a different learning board with activities for each month.

Parents or guardians are also encouraged to work with their child to complete the daily activities. They sign off once the activities are completed and the packet of materials should be returned to class five days after school starts back again.

In lieu of the regular school day, completion of the virtual learning would lessen the need for additional make-up days throughout the school year.

“Our biggest focus is that we want kids to keep learning what they would be learning if they were at school,” said Lynn Plummer, curriculum coach at Central Elementary, who helped create the virtual learning.

Plummer said the curriculum committee met with other counties, such as Transylvania, that have piloted similar programs.

Modeled after a program in Transylvania, Plummer said teacher assistants could work with students whose parents might be busy or not around.

The format is more flexible for middle and high school students and would include online assignments (Google Classroom, Canvas, Hyperdocs, Prep Factory) with some hands-on activities, Dr. Alisha Ellis said. Examples of activities include writing assignments (such as how to write a business letter or a memo) and a tic tac toe board where students choose three activities that correspond with a book they have been reading.

After hearing from Plummer and Ellis, the school board approved a motion to move forward with the Virtual Learning Opportunity.